• But recently I have learned from discussions with a variety of scientists and other non-philosophers (e.g., the scientists participating with me in the Sean Carroll workshop on the future of naturalism) that they lean the other way: free will, in their view, is obviously incompatible with naturalism, with determinism, and very likely incoherent against any background, so they cheerfully insist that of course they don't have free will, couldn’t have free will, but so what? It has nothing to do with morality or the meaning of life. Their advice to me at the symposium was simple: recast my pressing question as whether naturalism (materialism, determinism, science...) has any implications for what we may call moral competence. For instance, does neuroscience show that we cannot be responsible for our choices, cannot justifiably be praised or blamed, rewarded or punished? Abandon the term 'free will' to the libertarians and other incompatibilists, who can pursue their fantasies untroubled. Note that this is not a dismissal of the important issues; it’s a proposal about which camp gets to use, and define, the term. I am beginning to appreciate the benefits of discarding the term 'free will' altogether, but that course too involves a lot of heavy lifting, if one is to avoid being misunderstood

    Sean Carroll
  • The world is not magic — and that’s the most magical thing about it

    Sean Carroll
  • This is not a universe that is advancing toward a goal; it is one that is caught in the grip of an unbreakable pattern

    Sean Carroll
  • Einstein's paper on the photoelectric effect was the work for which he ultimately won the Nobel Prize. It was published in 1905, and Einstein has another paper in the very same journal where it appeared - his other paper was the one that formulated the special theory of relativity. That's what it was like to be Einstein in 1905; you publish a groundbreaking paper that helps lay the foundation of quantum mechanics, and for which you later win the Nobel Prize, but it's only the second most important paper that you publish in that issue of the journal

    Sean Carroll
  • Science and religion both make claims about the fundamental workings of the universe. Although these claims are not a priori incompatible (we could imagine being brought to religious belief through scientific investigation), I will argue that in practice they diverge. If we believe that the methods of science can be used to discriminate between fundamental pictures of reality, we are led to a strictly materialist conception of the universe. While the details of modern cosmology are not a necessary part of this argument, they provide interesting clues as to how an ultimate picture may be constructed

    Sean Carroll
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